Tallahassee, Florida – On Friday, Florida Department of Corrections Secretary, Mike Crews, released a memo to all employees that outlined the Department’s revised disciplinary policies. Amending this employee discipline policy was one of several reforms announced by Secretary Crews last month.
I expect everyone to do what is right and I have restated my commitment to hold the staff that choose not to meet our expectations accountable for their wrongdoing. As we reviewed case files and penalties for improper acts, it became clear to me that we have not been applying a uniform standard by which to hold ourselves accountable. The lack of consistent consequences for the same crime has the potential of undermining the culture of professionalism that is necessary for running institutions with integrity.
As members of the Florida Department of Corrections, you are responsible for the care, custody, and control of inmates as well as for the supervision of offenders who have been criminally sentenced by the courts of this state. Given that tremendous responsibility and the public trust associated with it, it is vital that each of you conduct yourselves on-duty and off-duty in a manner that commands respect and is consistent with the Department’s values. Effective immediately, any member whose conduct violates any criminal statute will be placed on administrative leave and the Department will initiate disciplinary action for dismissal.
While the Department has always taken disciplinary action against members whose conduct violated state statutes, this new policy will apply a uniform standard of dismissal for members who engage in any criminal act, including misdemeanors. Violations of Department rules and procedures will continue to be disciplined as provided by Chapter 33-208 Florida Administrative Code. In accordance with Section 110.227 Florida Statutes, affected employees shall be given an opportunity to appear before the delegated disciplinary authority to answer orally and in writing the charges against him or her prior to final action being taken. Delegated disciplinary authorities that deviate from the Department standard are required to provide written justification to the Deputy Secretary or Chief of Staff.
While any criminal conduct will result in disciplinary action of dismissal, examples of criminal conduct include:
Section 944.35 Florida Statutes
- Inmate abuse
- Failing to report inmate abuse
- Inaccurate, incomplete, untruthful reports
- Coercion or threats
- Sexual misconduct
Section 944.36 Florida Statutes
- Permitting an inmate to escape
Section 944.37 Florida Statutes
- Acceptance of unauthorized compensation from inmates or offenders
Section 944.47 Florida Statutes
- Introduction of any controlled substance
- Introduction of a firearm, weapon, on any explosive device
- Introduction of portable communication device (cell phone)
- Introduction of any intoxicating beverage
- Introduction of food, clothing, recorded communication, or currency intended for an Inmate
Possession of a controlled substance
Driving under the influence
Secretary Crews said, “This is another step toward increasing accountability and transparency at the Department. Our employees should exhibit the highest standards of professionalism and integrity on the job, in the community, and at their homes, but if they break the law, they will be held accountable. This policy will keep those who break the law from putting the uniform back on the next day. I have made it clear that I will not allow the bad actions of a few to tarnish the reputations of all the hard working men and women in our Department. I have said it before, and I will say it again – our Department should be held to the highest standards, and I have zero tolerance for anything else.”
Crews also said the agency would hand over 82 open investigations into prison deaths — all of which are the result of non-natural causes — to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
“Releasable information regarding inmate deaths, including cases that are still under investigation, will be online within the next 30 days,” said Crews.